Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Catching up in blogdom

It's been a while so I thought I'd post an update for the two to three people who actually read my blog.

Since my last post I have successfully emerged from the mouthpiece vortex, Morgan Excalibur in hand. Matter o' fact, I liked the tenor piece so much I went ahead and picked up the same piece for my alto. There was a brief retreat back to the vortex when I received my old Florida Link from Adam Niewood. This was the piece I had played on all through college before finding the Guardala. I had sent him the piece to correct some defects and when I got it back it played 100 times better than it ever did. After A-B-ing the two mouthpieces the Morgan still has the edge to me though I play the Link from time to time. Speaking of which I used the Otto Link on a recording session for pianist Azaam Hameed's upcoming CD. Oh and click on that link to Adam Niewood's website when you get a chance. Not only is he a great technician when it comes to mouthpiece work but he's a killer tenor player and composer as well. He's got a bunch of free mp3 downloads on his site that have been in constant rotation on my iPod for weeks.

Towards the end of February I had the pleasure of adjudicating my first high school jazz festival at Fonda-Fultonville High School. Guitarist Joe Finn and I listened and evaluated bands from all over New York state and also performed a brief set of standards for the students with some help from bassist Mike DelPrete and Danny Whelchel.

The next day I had the opportunity to play duo with two incredible pianists at a cafe Copake, NY - David Caldwell Mason and Armen Donelian. David ran into some killer traffic and ended up missing the first set but fortunately Armen just happened to be in attendance and joined me for a handful of tunes. Rather I should say I joined him. Prior to the performance I was familiar with his name but I didn't know much about Armen's playing. Let's just say that after our brief set I should have been paying him for the public lesson! He is a fantastic musician and I'd recommend going to hear him when he's in town at Justin's on April 8th. David eventually made it for the second set and we had fun, but not nearly as much fun as we had a few days later at Justin's. I had sent Dave charts and mp3s of my music a few weeks in advance of that performance and not only did he play the crap out of the tunes - he had them all memorized! I hope to do more playing with both David and Armen in the near future.

In the middle of March we had the second annual Burke Mountain Ski Trip. Though it began with six of us planning to drive north for a few days of skiing, in the end only three of us spent the weekend in Mike's family's trailside condo. I grew up skiing with my family but once I went to college and realized how expensive it was to strap on a couple boards to my feet and zoom down a mountain, ski trips became a thing of the past. Up until last year I don't think I had skied in ten years. Lucky for me it all came back on the first run. Heck, this year I even spent the end of the last day taking as much air as possible, reliving the glory days of my youth. I regretted this for days after we got home ...

There's a new instrument taking up space in my studio these days. I borrowed a friend's bass clarinet and I think I'm in love. While I'm not a fan the standard Bb clarinet, the bass clarinet is another beast entirely. Who knows, I may even practice it enough to bring it on a gig at some point. Stranger things have happened.

I've also been working on a few new tunes. I wrote a quirky 7/8 funk piece entitled "Gil Barney (Wins The Race)" in tribute to my dad. A little back story: Back in the day my father briefly attended a seminary while training to become a priest, which I hear was more common back in the day then it is in current times. In any case, one of his after hours hobbies was stock car racing which apparently wasn't looked on favorably by the seminary folks. Thus the stage name Gil Barney was born. I've always thought that was a quirky name and what better to name a quirky song. I've also been working on a as yet untitled ballad in tribute to the love of my life that will be unveiled this Sunday at Justin's. I hope she likes it!

Recent listening
DEXTER GORDON A Swingin' Affair
MICHAEL BLAKE Right Before Your Ears
POLAR BEAR Held on the Tips of Fingers
FIRE FLIES Baobabs in the Basement